Pickled Watermelon Rind

Pickled watermelon rinds are a Southern classic that are crisp and sweet and tangy and oh-so-enticing. Tasting is believing. Here’s how to make them.

A jar of pickled watermelon rind on a rack with a dish and spoon beside it.

This watermelon pickle recipe makes a sweet and tangy treat that’ll remind you long after the season is gone. It’s also a nifty way to ensure zero food waste solution, so you can feel even better this summer and beyond while enjoying the, er, fruits of your labor.–Angie Zoobkoff

HOW DO I CHANGE THE AMOUNT OF WATERMELON RIND I PICKLE?

Feeling a little daunted by the thought of pickling 14 jars of watermelon rind? Or maybe you want to pickle a mountain of rind to gift at the holidays? This recipe can easily be scaled up or down.  Follow the recipe below, and for every pound of rind, simply use 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. You’ll also want to add 1/2 cinnamon stick to each 1/2 pint jar.

Pickled Watermelon Rind

A jar of pickled watermelon rind on a rack with a dish and spoon beside it.
Pickled watermelon rinds are a Southern classic that are crisp and sweet and tangy and oh so enticing. Tasting is believing. Here's how to make them.
Ellen Ecker Ogden | Andrea Diehl

Prep 1 hr 30 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 12 hrs
Snacks
Southern
56 servings | 14 half-pint jars
24 kcal
5 / 5 votes
Print RecipeBuy the The Vermont Country Store Cookbook cookbook

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Equipment

  • 10 to 14 half-pint (250-ml) jars and lids

Ingredients 

  • 4 pounds watermelon rind
  • 5 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons whole allspice
  • 7 cinnamon sticks broken in half

Directions
 

  • Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife, remove the green skin from the watermelon rind and discard. Cut the white rind into 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) strips or cubes, leaving a little pink flesh attached to each piece for color, if desired. Toss the rinds in a large stainless-steel bowl and add enough cold water to cover. Let soak overnight, preferably in the refrigerator.
  • In a colander set over the sink, drain the rind and transfer it to a 6-quart (5.7-liter) or larger stockpot. Add enough water to cover and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat. Cook until tender but not soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in the same colander and rinse with cold water.
  • Take a small piece of cheesecloth, gather the cloves and allspice in its center, and tie to secure. In the large stockpot set over medium heat, combine the sugar, vinegar, spice pouch, and watermelon rind and bring to a simmer. Cook slowly until the rind is transparent, about 10 minutes. Don’t overcook it as the rind will cook again in the hot-water bath. Remove and discard the spices from the pot.
  • Place a piece of cinnamon stick in each of 14 sterilized half-pint jars. Using a wide-mouth funnel, ladle the watermelon rind into the jars. Evenly distribute the rind and the brine, leaving 1/4-inch (6-mm) headroom. Wipe the rims clean with hot water and place rubber lids and screw tops to seal. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. [EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information, please see the Canning 101 section in this recipe.}
  • Store the pickled watermelon rind a cool, dark place for at least 3 months before using.
Print RecipeBuy the The Vermont Country Store Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 24kcal (1%)Carbohydrates: 6g (2%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 1g (2%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 36mg (1%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 184IU (4%)Vitamin C: 3mg (4%)Calcium: 2mgIron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Pickled watermelon rinds were something I grew up with, as my mom put some up every summer. They tend to be a sweet pickle, so they weren't really my favorite since I have more of a sour tooth than a sweet tooth. Looking at the amount of sugar in this recipe, I was expecting the usual. But these pickles turned out to be nicely balanced. Yes, they’re a sweet pickle, but they’re not cloying. You still get a good acid kick, and the spices add a bit of warmth.

They’re attractive pickles on their own, and would make a lovely addition to any pickle plate. But remember you can also dice them up small and use as a sweet relish. It's a damn good pickle. I used 4 pounds watermelon rind, cut into batons 1 1/2 to 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide, although the thickness varied with the rind, leaving just a thin strip of colored watermelon flesh.

In a 6-quart pot, the watermelon plus water to cover came up almost to the rim. I opened a jar and tasted a pickle after just a few days. The pickles were pretty much perfect. I'm not sure 3 months with a cinnamon stick is going to do them any favors. A better idea (and safer from a food preservation perspective) would be to put the cinnamon sticks in the brine when you simmer the pickles, and not put them in the jars at all. Hands-on time is about 2 hours. Total time is 2 days...or 3 months, if you’re really going to wait that long, which I see no reason to do.

This recipe not only makes a marvelous and attractive pickled watermelon rind but it also nicely addresses food waste head-on. I made watermelon pickles once, years ago, and I am so happy to return to them now. That being said, I loved the hint to leave a little of the red flesh attached to make the prettiest pickle—a tip to definitely follow.

An additional plus to this recipe is the certainty with which they state that the general ratio will work to increase or decrease the amounts based upon the size of the melon—for me, this would be a decrease, which can oftentimes be tricky. I'm looking forward to gifting these—3 months out brings us nearly to the holidays, hard to believe. So far, so good, and I will be back with you after the leaves have fallen.


Originally published June 24, 2017

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Comments

  1. My Dad and I made these every summer when I was a kid — we added a bit of hot-pepper flake to each (pint) jar for a little bite. Recently I started cutting the rind into 1″-wide strips then into 1/4″ slices; they go on sandwiches better that way.

    Oh yes — it also works to slice kumquats into rings and set those against the glass when filling the jars; the citrus adds a nice touch and the color pops.

  2. 5 stars
    Love making watermelon rind pickles. It brings back fond memories of my mother canning. I use a cheese planer to take the Rind off it makes it much easier. I also use a coffee grinder to grind the spices up. Any leftover pickle juice I can that for the next time. These are one of my favorites. Fairly simple and easy recipe.
    Happy munching!

  3. 5 stars
    The pickled watermelon rind I make takes 6 days from start to finish. The recipe came from a friend who lived on Smith Island. It uses cinnamon oil and clove oil. I have also made it with Ghost Peppers added (no seeds) and it was a huge hit. I make it for others to enjoy, I just love to can!

  4. 5 stars
    I don’t have a comment as yet. Just curious as to why half pint jars. Can I do pints? I’m looking forward to making these. My mom always canned watermelon pickles, and we loved them. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    1. Vera, you absolutely can use pint jars. Just click the link in the recipe to process it the correct of time, as it may differ from the time required for pints.

  5. I am wondering why the first boil/rinse (15-20 minutes) is necessary. Is there a bitterness in the rind that leaches out that requires discarding?

    1. Hi Deanna, it helps to lessen the crunchiness in the finished pickles. This method is also used in pickling carrots and okra.

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